They buzz among us. They are the hummers – men and women and sometimes neither, who, through no fault of their own, emit faint but conspicuous thrumming, whirring or buzzing sounds from somewhere on their persons. From day to day, they live with the stares, the rude comments and the earplugs. They walk into the room and all goes quiet – except for the humming, obviously.
Verticular vibrational variance or VVV is a not very debilitating but nonetheless annoying condition that afflicts 3 in 15 North Americans but curiously not 1 in 5 and only rarely 2 in 10. The condition ranges in severity from barely audible purring to fluorescent-bulb-level buzzing and can strike anyone, at any age, usually after lunch.
Science cannot explain VVV because science gets nervous speaking in front of people. What is known is that humming sounds appear to emit primarily from the base of the skull although there are frequent cases of full-body hummers. As with all sounds (except for the music of Boney M, which science can’t explain), person-projected purring is caused by vibrations, though it is unclear whether the vibrations originate at the skeletal, muscular, vascular, organical, nervular or lymphotonitronic level. Science likes to make up words sometimes.
Most VVV sufferers have their own tone and pitch, although these can vary in intensity depending on stimulation, with stress or excitement, for example, causing an increase in volume. This can result in considerable social discomfort, especially when those Victoria’s Secret ads come on TV.
What causes VVV is likewise unclear. Originally, researchers pointed at the H1N-HUM virus, but everyone complained that pointing was rude, so the researchers went off and sulked for a while, but they got over it, as researchers tend to, especially if university funding is hanging in the balance. There has also been the suggestion that VVV is connected to chronic tonsillitis, although at this point the evidence is purely adenoidal.
Researchers have, however, ruled out the possibility that VVV is caused by exposure to mass quantities of pastrami, which is good news indeed.
What’s not so good is this segue. What’s also not so good is the discrimination inflicted upon sufferers of VVV, the not-so-silent disease.
How many times, for example, has a VVV sufferer been asked at a job interview, “Are you humming?” and answered, “No, that’s just my cologne,” which doesn’t fool anyone, and consequently been unfairly refused the job? Answer: one time that we know of, maybe twice, but that’s one or two times too many.
Professionally, socially, rhythmically, VVV sufferers are often shunned, or “shummed,” as the victims themselves like to say, though nobody likes to hear them say it.
At the other end of the spectrum, people take advantage of VVV sufferers by thrusting their colicky babies at them in the hopes that the drone of the humming will soothe the wailing infant to sleep for one godforsaken hour of peace and quiet, is that too much to ask? And what do babies carry? Germs, which are fatal to VVV sufferers in .002 percent of cases. Guns don’t kill hummers; babies kill hummers.
Thankfully, there is hope. Not for VVV sufferers – they’re kind of screwed – but in general; I sincerely believe we have to have hope if we’re to make it in this crazy, mixed-up world full of weird, vibrating people.
However, if you or a loved one or someone you don’t like very much but have to work with anyway suffers from VVV, send your tax-not-deductible donation today to Victims of VVV (VVVV) care of the address being beamed into your home as we speak via wireless smart meters and the miracle of fluoridation. In exchange, you will get a keen laminated membership card as well as discount coupons for rolls of sound-buffering cotton batten that can be used to wrap you or your loved one or that guy. (One batten per square metre of person is a good rule of thrum.)
Act today. Please don’t let the plight of VVV sufferers fall on deaf ears, although that’s probably okay, come to think of it.